Posts Tagged With: cook up

Covid Cupboard Cooking: Week 1

While I was working on my last post I ended up getting distracted and creating an inventory of my food cupboards, which seems the ultimate in procrastination but has actually turned out to be very useful in terms of meal planning. I’ve always been a fan of meal planning and food shopping with a targeted list, but in these strange days it’s become even more important than before. Also it means that if I find myself faced with a bargain I can make the impulse buy or not based on knowing exactly what I have in the cupboards that I can cook it with.

As part of this challenge I’m attempting to use up some of the dried pulses and tins that having been lurking longer in my cupboards than I’d like. Also those little ends of packets where I had just too much to fit in the available jar. (The section of my cutlery drawer that houses my freezer/packet clips is full to busting in a way it hasn’t been since I first moved in and still had an empty freezer.) To that end I’ve used up some lurking dried mung beans in my – broccoli and blue cheese – soup, freeing up a jar to keep the rest of my quinoa in, and made giant couscous for dinner one night using up the rather sad end of a packet so that it all fits in one jar. I don’t know that the packet of cheddar and sundried tomato bread mix that I turned into a loaf the other day really counts towards this challenge – as I only bought it as a treat a couple of weeks ago – but it sure does taste good. I’d planned to do more bulk cooking this week but I discovered that there was actually very little free space in my freezer. There were, however, lots of half used packets of things lurking at the back of drawers so I’ve also been trying to use them up. First up were the end of a bag of edamame beans that had frozen solid – I’ve fully defrosted them and chucked a handful of them in almost everything I’ve cooked this week. They work really well in giant couscous and with gnocchi, but less so in an omelette. I also finished off a packet of ‘no duck’ Chinese pasty things which were definitely elevated by being served with some edamame and the Ketjap Manis I unearthed in my cupboard inventorying.

I’d also stocked up on frozen fruit mixes as I’d thought fresh fruit might be harder to source at the moment, but on my last grocery run, I discovered that evidentially lots of people had had the same thought as I was able to pick up a pile of bargains in the fruit and veg section – I got a bag of carrots, a cauliflower and a bunch of spring onions for the princely total of 22p – and other than bananas and tangerines, fruit seems plentiful. So it looks like I won’t need to keep my jam gooseberries for keeping up the vitamin C and can actually make jam with them.

Oh and I did track down those dried black beans, it turns out they’re in a cupboard in my mum’s kitchen – a cupboard that, despite my not living there in six years, is still referred to as ‘my’ cupboard – if they’ve been there all this time I suspect that pickling them will be the only way to still get any use out of them at this stage.

Categories: being veggie, challenges, covid cookup | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Revolving Into the New Year

Once again January is upon us and it is time to assess how well last year’s challenges went and pick new ones for the coming year. I can easily sum up how last year’s challenges went in one word: badly. I had some unmitigated successes in terms of trying new things and learning skills in the kitchen but none of them were the ones I started the year planning to do. While some of that can be blamed on the upheaval of moving into my own place, it’s coming up on a year now, I should know by now what that life looks like and adjust my cooking habits accordingly. Instead of just falling back on the easiest option.

The smallest and yet most pressing challenge is to get back into writing regularly hear again. While I was better during the last quarter of 2019 – I even managed the rare endeavour of a December blog post – there were months when I didn’t post at all, largely because I didn’t cook much over those months that was worth writing about, in fact most of my culinary achievements over the autumn – learning to roll sushi and getting back into baking bread in particular – came about largely because I wanted something to write about here. Blogging about food and cooking interesting food have become a self-fulfilling circle, feeding into each other, one hobby encouraging the other. So I want to do more of that this year. I don’t want to set myself any ridiculous targets – life, and my job in particular, has a tendency to laugh in the face of such plans – just get back into the habit of posting at least once every month, ideally twice.

To this end I want to focus on two ideas. First up the long running project for the whole year, I want to get back into batch cooking. Back when I worked my previous job I was much better at doing regular bulk cooks, despite the limitations of my tiny icebox freezer. Now that I have an actual decently sized freezer, I somehow don’t remember that bulk cooking is now a thing that I can do. Occasionally freezing an extra portion of curry to save it from going off when plans change is all well and good, but I’m really not taking advantage of my freezer. Instead I’m relying too much on oven-ready freezer foods, when with a bit of forethought, I could be eating both healthier and saving a whole lot of effort. (And, you know, money!) I’ve got a funky new recipe book out of the library – I’ve already made, and frozen, tasty soup – to get me off to flying start

This leads me onto my second idea. While the cupboard clear outs that came with moving house reset the timer on a lot of things in my cupboards, my general lethargy and lack of adventurous cookery last year means those cupboard staples are building up again. I’m definitely better about circulating my tins after my ‘all the tinned tomatoes in the world’ debacle last January and having a spice rack on the outside of my cupboards means I both keep better track of what spices I have/need replenished and I’m more inclined to remember to use the more unusual ones as they’re right there when I’m cooking. There was a time, before I started this blog, when I kept an actual paper inventory of what was in my cupboard and made actual weekly meal plans based on what needed used up and food shopped accordingly. I don’t think I need to be that anal about it but I do think some accountability in terms of meal planning – instead of nebulous plans based on browsing recipe books when I’m hungry – would not go amiss.

So I want to do a couple of cook-up my cupboards challenges, October already has a tag so that seems a good time for the second one, while there’s no time like the present to do the first one. I need to have a clear out of my cupboards, see what’s actually there, what needs used up soonest and plan what I’m going to cook to achieve that. I bet I find enough ‘new ingredients’ to make another post for the tail end of that challenge while I’m at it…

Categories: challenges, january cook-up, October cook-up | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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